Keyword Density: Is it still important when writing quality web content?

Image from SXC.hu

Something which has been highly debated over the past few years is whether or not keyword density affects Google rankings.

So what is keyword density?

Wikipedia gives a great explanation:

“Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. In the context of SEO, keyword density can be used as a factor to determine whether or not a webpage is relevant to a specified keyword or keyword phrase.”

So what is the optimum percentage for a keyword or phrase?

When I first started in the SEO field many, many moons ago it was claimed that a keyword density of 7% was optimum. As search engine optimisation has moved forward other factors now count more which means the impact of keyword density has changed and the percentage has dropped.

So does it affect rankings?

The simple answer is… yes! I have found a keyword density of 3% works best in terms of rankings. You’ve got to remember there are loads of other places to include the main keyword or phrases apart from in the main copy which help with rankings and Google determine what the page is about, these include:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Website slogan
  • Navigation
  • Breadcrumb trails
  • Alt text
  • Title attribute on links
  • Internal links
  • URL’s
  • File / folder names

My thoughts on keyword density…

Whilst I believe keyword density helps with SEO and rankings, I have found that using LDA and topic modelling along with keyword density works even better, so instead of shoe horning the same keyword or phrase into a piece of content, use related words and synonyms to assist your main keywords. You can read more about LDA and topic modelling in a previous blog post I wrote here.

and finally…

It’s important to note that over doing your keyword density can have a negative impact. Cramming keywords in to web content looks very spammy and could result in a Google penalty – as I’ve said before, make sure your content is of a high quality and user focused.

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